Film / Scream 4

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Scream 4 (2011) is the fourth film in the Scream franchise.

It's been over a decade since Sidney last defeated Ghostface and is now living a quiet life in Woodsboro. At the 15th anniversary of the original Woodsboro massacre, another killer surfaces to target not only Sidney, but a new generation of teenagers.

This was Wes Craven's final movie.


This film provides examples of:

  • 15 Minutes of Fame: Jill's motivation for the killings.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Ghostface's knives have always parted flesh easily, but this film gets an exceptional example when a police officer is stabbed through the forehead nearly up to the hilt in a 'hard poke' stabbing motionnote . Keep in mind, with some lucky angles the human skull can deflect BULLETS.
  • Anyone Can Die: The marketing has strongly teased the possibility of series regulars getting killed off. They don't, though all of them come close.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Jill Roberts. Perhaps more so than any of the previous Ghostfaces.
    • Chloe as well, considering that she brutally stabbed Rachel over talking too much during Stab 6.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Jill and Charlie are the joint-killers that donned the Ghostface identity here, the latter for his love towards Jill, and the former to make herself a "sole-surviving hero", getting the fame that comes with the title. Jill soon proves that she's the dominant one, disposing of Charlie to fulfill her own plan.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jill and Charlie's plans are foiled. However, all the new characters, save for Judy (and possibly Kirby), are dead. Sidney, Dewey, and Gale come out injured but still kicking, having survived yet another Ghostface killing spree. The media are convinced that Jill is a hero, and one wonders how Sidney is going to take having to tell the world that her own family member was playing them all like fiddles, and was committing the murders herself.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Kirby (blonde), Jill (brunette) and Olivia (redhead).
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Some parts of the movie are far more gruesome than the original trilogy. Olivia gets a brutal and drawn out death, and her room is a bloody mess when Sidney finds it. Hoss gets stabbed in the head and walks around slowly dying. Kate gets a rather gruesome death too - stabbed in the throat through her letterbox.
  • Bond One-Liner: Given by Sidney to the killer.
    Sidney: You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill: Don't fuck with the original.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Kirby has very short hair, that's used to show her as a Lad Ette.
  • Bury Your Gays: Played for laughs. Robbie states that being gay is probably the only way to survive a horror film. Later when Ghostface attacks him, he claims he's gay thinking it will save him. It doesn't.
  • Bus Crash: Neil Prescott is said to have died in between this and the third film by producers.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Variation. Dewey gets clocked in the head with a bedpan.
  • Call-Back:
    • Jill is given a forearm wound when escaping the killer, that mirrors Derek's in Scream 2.
    • Charlie is tied up and Kirby is forced to answer horror trivia to save his life - which Casey did for Steve in Scream. The framing and use of outdoor lights for the scene even echoes that original scene quite effectively.
    • Trevor climbs into Jill's bedroom window, which Billy did for Sidney in Scream. Sidney lampshades this somewhat.
    • When Jill and Charlie reveal their patsy, Trevor, he's in a closet, tied up the same way Sidney's father was in the original, even wearing a similar outfit (jeans, t-shirt, denim jacket.) Once again Lampshaded asking Sidney "Remind you of anything?"
  • Cash Cow Franchise: invoked While Stab was entering this with the third installment (the first not based on real life murders), the fact that it got to 7 installments - one of which has time travel - shows it went down the "grab a quick buck" path rather easily.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Apparently Sidney and Detective Kincaid broke up, but this isn't mentioned.
  • Continuity Nod: The girl in the beginning getting crushed by a garage door mirrors a similar kill in the first Scream (1996).
  • Continuity Reboot: Parodied. The film satirizes reboots and remakes (much like the original films satirized slashers, sequels, and trilogies) complete with a cast of characters meant to be new versions of the original cast.
  • Dead Star Walking: In-universe examples (maybe). The Film Within a Film Stab 6 has Lucy Hale from Pretty Little Liars getting offed. It's then followed by Stab 7 showing Anna Paquin from True Blood suffering the same fate. And then in the 'real' scene, one of the two victims is played by Aimee Teegarden from Friday Night Lights.
  • Death by Sex:
    • Apparently, averted. The trailer states that "the rules have changed. Virgins can die now." In the trailer,note  this is then promptly used by Kirby for a Take That! at the girls sitting next to her:
      Kirby: Does that mean I'm not gonna live as long as these two?
    • The answer seems to be "Yes," but it's never definitely stated she gets it, except by Jill — who has a vested interest in her being dead, and who wasn't on the scene when it happened so it's likely she's only assuming it's such.
    • If Kirby actually died, it's a weird inversion — she died for not having sex (with the eventual murderer of all people, as a Moment Killer ruined their advances on each other).
    • This is played straight by Trevor, who is mentioned to have had sex with Jill (the killer!). This one is especially ironic, given that Trevor and Jill are Billy and Sidney expies, respectively, and Sidney survived having sex with Billy (also the killer) in the original.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: The motivation of Jill Roberts has nothing to do with Maureen or avenging previous killers, which was really all dealt with by the end of the trilogy. This killer's motivation? A lot more simple and selfish (see 15 Minutes of Fame above).
  • Distaff Counterpart: Kirby, for Randy from the original.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The ending has Jill, the new version of Sidney in this copycat of the first film's murders (i.e. a remake of Scream), trying to kill and replace Sidney and claim her fame for herself. In other words, it's the remake literally defiling the original film and displacing it in the public eye. And Sidney is not happy.
    Sidney: You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill. Don't fuck with the original.
  • Drinking Game: At the Stabathon, one of these is occurring.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Kirby's first moment on screen is breaking the speed limit in front of Dewey. He sighs "Kirby", implying this is a frequent occurrance.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Neil Prescott has died in the years between Scream 3 and this film.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Jill, especially in the scene where she's self-harming to make herself look like a victim of the killer.
  • Evil Plan: The events of the film were all planned out by Jill, who wanted to kill Sidney, frame Trevor, betray Charlie, and come out the Final Girl of the movie so that she could have the same fame and hero worship that Sidney got for surviving her first three ordeals. The Moral Event Horizon is crossed when she decides that, in order to be more convincing and sympathetic, she had to kill off her own mother, in addition to Sidney.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At the afterparty, most of the gang are drinking alcohol. But Charlie is hitting a Red Bull, both to stay sober and to keep energetic while killing.
    • Jill is looking menacingly at Sydney in the poster up there.
  • Geeky Turn-On: Charlie and Kirby over the latter's impressive collection of horror movies.
  • Girls Are Really Scared of Horror Movies: Subverted. Kirby has a big DVD collection of horrors.
  • Grand Finale: For the most part of the Scream film series. Wes Craven passed away four years after this film was made and the series was rebooted into a a TV series with a different plot and cast unrelated to the film series.
  • Groin Attack: Jill to Trevor. With a gunshot.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: The big twist is that Jill is the real killer as she wants to be famous just as Sydney was as the sole survivor of a murder spree. Ironically, the film's end indicates she does get her wish as she becomes famous all right once the truth of her spree comes out.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Dewey realizes that the supposed Final Girl, Jill, is the real killer because she mentions that she and Gale have "matching wounds". The details of the killer's assault on Gale had not been revealed to the public, so Jill would have no way of knowing unless she was the one who attacked Gale. While there is the possibility that the details of the crime got leaked and she heard about them, any news report must've aired, presumably, after Kirby got Jill from the house (since Kirby left before the attack) so the chances for that were minimal. Robby and Charlie were too freaked out from the attack, given that they believed their lives would go to shit thanks to the attack happening at an event THEY were throwing. They were right.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A cop is stabbed in the forehead. And still lives long enough for some Black Comedy Famous Last Words.
  • In the Blood: The Roberts family. Both Sidney's half-brother Roman and first cousin Jill turn out to be psychopathic murderers.
  • The Lad-ette: Kirby, a brash, snarky, tomboyish horror buff who makes the first move on a timid boy she's into.
  • Made of Iron: Holy crap, Jill. The girl scratches herself, pulls out her hair, stabs herself in the shoulder, runs her face into a glass picture frame, and then throws herself through a glass coffee table. At the hospital she's still able to start up another rampage, nearly killing Sidney and Dewey. A defibrillator to the head only momentarily slows her down. It isn't until she shot directly in the heart that she stops. She's probably the toughest killer yet.
  • Matricide: The new Ghostface willingly kills her own mother to replicate the missing-mother motif that Sidney Prescott had to live with.
  • Moment Killer: Oh, Trevor, why did you interrupt the geek getting the girl?
  • Mythology Gag: The film also has several events (seen and/or referenced) that are Shout-Outs to previous films in the series. For example, Jenny's chase scene echoes both Sidney's first encounter with Ghostface in the original, and Tatum's death by garage door.
  • Near Villain Victory: Jill nearly gets away with her plan, except a) Sidney survives her attack and b) she mentions how she and Gale have matching wounds, despite the fact that she should have no way of knowing that. In a way, she still wins... even though she dies, she achieves the fame she always wanted. The final shot in the movie is her corpse, with the faint sign of a smile on her lips as the news reporters describe her in glowing terms. Of course, this is before the truth will hit later that Jill was the one engineering the whole show. So she'll be famous alright, just not in the way she envisioned.
  • Not Quite Dead: A rare heroic example — Sidney, who was presumed to have been killed, managed to survive after all. Wild Mass Guessing also claims that Kirby may have survived and just hiding.
  • Offhand Backhand: Sidney pulls one by casually turning and shooting an attacking Not Quite Dead Jill with a handgun.
  • Offing the Annoyance: Kristen Bell's character from Stab 7 who kills her friend for "talking too much".
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: What ultimately the climax comes down to. Sidney is well into her late 30s at this point while Jill is likely at least 18-19. Granted, Sidney is more then experienced at dealing with Ghostface killers and even gives Jill and Charlie a hard time when they're masked. The only reason Jill nearly wins is because she does manage to get a mortal blow on Sidney during the events at the house, who is too weakened to fight back when Jill comes to finish the job at the hospital when she finds that Sidney is still alive. It's only due to Jill's arrogance and Gale managing to stall her long enough that she loses in the end when Sidney zaps her with the defibulator pads. Finishing Jill with a gunshot for good measure.
  • Oh, Crap!: Gale and Dewey upon realizing that Jill is the killer.
  • Outlaw Couple: Charlie thought that he and Jill were this. Unfortunately for him, Jill was looking to play the Final Girl instead. Emphasis on Final.
  • Plot Armor: Discussed in regards to Sidney. She still has it.
  • Police Are Useless: Hoss and Perkins are nowhere to be found while Olivia is being stabbed to death. Really, any cop in this series not named Dewey is pretty much hopeless. They even note that police in horror films tend to be worthless, and die. They're right on both counts.
  • Polish the Turd: Parodied in the cast/crew section on the film's website, where all of the actors' bios are heavily glowing, praising their careers. When you read the one for David Arquette, however, you realize that the whole thing's a joke.
    David Arquette is an actor, writer, director and producer whose unique sensibility makes him one of the most versatile talents working in the entertainment industry today, able to segue from comedy to drama with extraordinary ease. This makes David Arquette extremely uncomfortable, because of the fact that he is writing this bio himself and it seems arrogant to boast about his incredible talents in such a way while also referring to himself in the third person.
  • Red Herring:
    • The movie likes to hint at Trevor. He really was just trying to protect Jill, after all. Too bad she didn't need protection.
    • The movie also briefly hints at Judy. Having a creepy "I remember you even if you don't remember me" conversation in a shadowy hallway ends up meaning nothing. To say nothing of her uncanny resemblance to the actress who played the first victim in the original Stab.
  • Remember the New Guy:
    • Judy Hicks, the new deputy, was an old classmate of Sidney's back in high school and says that her and Sidney used to act in plays together, despite not seen nor mentioned in the very first film. Sidney lampshades that she does not remember meeting her at all.
    • Kate and Jill are Sidney's aunt and cousin respectively, on Maureen's side of the family. Her having a sister was never mentioned at all, especially in the third film (which delves into her past).
  • Sacrificial Lion: Kirby and, to some degree, Robbie and Charlie. Though in Kirby's case, she may be alive since unlike the other two they never confirmed she was dead. (On the DVD/Blu-ray commentary track Hayden Panettiere and Wes Craven confirm that Kirby's fate is indeed left unclear, a rarity for a series that likes to make sure we know who's Killed Off for Real. Craven subsequently Tweeted that he didn't think Kirby went to the great big cinema in the sky. See also Executive Meddling.)
  • Sequel Non-Entity: Detective Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey) is the only surviving cast member from the previous film not to return or even be mentioned despite having become chummy with Sid, Dewey and Gale at the end.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the characters is named after Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates in Psycho. In fact, the film has several Shout-Outs to Alfred Hitchcock: A character named Marnie, and at least two background references to Rear Window, for instance.
    • The scenes with Jenny and Marnie are given a Color Wash to become blue and red saturated, rather like Suspiria - which is name dropped later as one of the movies Kirby owns.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Subverted like there's no tomorrow. Characters are thrown at us as being replacements for the characters of the original film, but most of the new characters die, the apparent Sidney replacement turns out to be the killer, and we even get a Billy replacement who is almost successfully framed for all the murders.
    • Jill: Sidney
    • Kirby: Tatum
    • Trevor: Billy
    • Robbie: Randy
    • Charlie: Stu
    • Judy: Dewey
    • Rebecca: Gale
  • Show Within a Show:
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Two blondes Jenny and Marnie are killed off in the opening. Kirby is seen getting stabbed but Word of God is that she survived.
  • Those Two Guys: Deputies Anthony Perkins and Ross Hoss fall under this.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Rebecca. After Ghostface appears on the hood of her car that she has locked herself in and reveals he cut the wires, he disappears when she tries to signal a car down. Instead of staying in the car and calling the cops to rescue her, she gets out of the car and runs for the parking garage exit. Take a guess as to how well that turns out.
    • Robbie may count as well, considering that he went walking outside, alone, drunk, when he knew there was a killer on the loose. Though he may have thought he was safe due to the rules started in the film class scene. Not really the case, though.
    • Perkins gets himself killed, along with Hoss, by choosing to joke around.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • One trailer makes it look like they're spoiling Gale's death, but she survives yet again. It also makes it appear as if Ghostface is in Jill's closet. Not really the case, AT ALL. It did, however, spoil Robbie's death, Hoss' and Perkins's deaths, Rebecca's death, and Marnie's body crashing through the window.
    • Another trailer shows Ghostface attacking Olivia from her closet. And you can throw in Kate's death having been spoiled as well.]]
  • Trilogy Creep: Scream 3 was hyped up as the conclusion of a trilogy. This film instead focuses on satirising remakes and reboots. A second trilogy was planned, but the low Box Office numbers ensured it remains as a standalone film.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: invoked
    • Happens in-universe with Stab 6, which features Ghostface taunting victims through Facebook. Anna Paquin's character, after watching it, reacts with disgust, calling it a stupid attempt by some hack writer to prove that We're Still Relevant, Dammit!, to which Kristen Bell's character replies "I guess now it would be Twitter."
    • invoked The film also has some meta-commentary on this, with regards to how most of the "rules" from the slashers of the '80s (and, by extension, the original Scream trilogy, which riffed on them) are now Discredited Tropes in 2011.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Arguably Jill goes through this in the end after her entire plan falls apart and basically turns to Taking You with Me.
  • Where It All Began: Woodsboro.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Jill's self-mutilation in order to make people think she was a victim, and unlike the last time it was tried, it succeeds.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Jill gets hit with a minor case of this. She believes the Stabathon was the fake-out ending, making the assault on the house the "real" ending. However, the Stabathon was such an obvious attempt to force a fake-out that it narratively only served as the halfway point of the movie. This means that Jill effectively went into the movie's second act, thinking it was the third.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: In Scream 4 when the killer calls Marnie he says of course she will die as "you're the Dumb Blonde with the big tits". She responds by saying she's a straight A student. She still gets killed though.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The killer takes out Charlie once he serves his purpose.

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